This last weekend I went to the Small Press Expo with a bunch of the other students. Over the last two or three weeks we endured many sleepless nights penciling, inking, photocopying, silk-screening, and ping-ponging it up. Then we (I think there were four car-loads that went) drove 9-12 hours (depending on which car you were in) to Bethesda Maryland where we found our respective lodgings and rested up, for the next two days were spent selling, trading, and buying comics.
And Boy there were comics. The Small Press Expo is one of the best places for self-publishing cartoonists, and some larger independent publishers to pawn their wares. Some of us sold our comics, some of us traded them, and all of us read them when we got the chance. There was a wild/huge/sometimes intimidating spectrum of sizes, page counts, content, and prices. And we were all set loose on each other for two days. SPX isn't like the stereotypical comic book conventions with their gaudy costumes and pewter statues. There were no Chewbaccas and no Wolverines, though there were a hell of a lot of guys with beards so it's kind of the same.
I'm no photographer, and I hate that guy who's always snapping pictures and flashing all over the place, but I do like to look at pictures and remember the Good Times. So I was that guy for a little bit. I took over a hundred pictures, and a lot of them were blurry because I kept turning the flash off so as not to be so obnoxious. Here are a few of the decent ones:
What'chu talkin' bout Joe?
JP and I went a couple of nights without sleeping, and subsequently missed a couple of classes. We made these stand-ins and thought they'd be a good idea. And they were. Because every idea had at 3:30am is a good idea.
The task that lay ahead of us was heavy and solid, but so were we?
Initially it was to be JP, Me, Penina, Alexis, and Gabby in JP's car, but when Gabby got in (sorry if this is embarrassing Gabby) he was, no joke, too tall to sit up! His neck was bent sideways. I've never seen anything like that, and, as a short person I never thought that this kind of thing was possible, but once again Gabby proves the impossible possible and ended up getting a ride in Alex's taller vehicle. I'm sorry you didn't ride with us man, but I was grateful for the leg room.
Penina documented the action
as JP went about trying to fit all of our crap into the back of his car Alexis looked on in disbelief and Penina snapped shots. Even without Gabby's stuff we had quite the load to pack, but
We Did It!
and look at the precision with which JP configured our precious items. Now nobody touch any of it until we get to the hotel.
The drive that lay ahead of use was to be a long one. We didn't want to go through New York so we took an alternate/longer route. MapQuest told us it would take 9.5 hours, so off we went with high spirits. The ride was full of plenty of laughs, shop talk, and oohs & ahs as we soaked in the miles of gorgeous fall scenery that surrounded us.
When hunger set in we settled on a restaurant advertised on a billboard.
We thought it was a Back to the Future reference.
but it wasn't. I guess there was a sign on the door that denied entrance to people without sleeves? We came to the conclusion that it was a gentlemen's club where the strippers wore only sleeves. We laughed about it for a long time and were in high spirits when we decided on a different diner down the highway. We went the wrong direction off of the off ramp-though, and had to pull a U-turn. As JP was finishing the turn he attempted to hop the curb a little, as I'm sure he's done before. As I'm sure we've all done before. The front tire goes up onto the curb for half a second and then comes down as the turn straightens out and we go on our merry way. Or so it should have happened.
Connecticut Curbs and the Damage They Cause.
As JP hopped up onto the curb we heard a ridiculous crunch and laughed about it as he backed up, and then stopped laughing as he reversed and we heard pieces falling off of the car. Here we have Alexis surveying the damage.
Good thing we had a spare...
In the back!
Under all this crap!
And so we emptied the back, removed the (luckily) full-sized spare, and got to work.
It takes four cartoonists to change a tire. Just so you know.
Packing it back up!
I can't tell if JP is laughing, or full of rage. Or maybe he's weeping.
Our new friend.
We got it all packed up, and we even had an extra piece of car to fit in. Note the saddle stitch stapler. No cartoonist car pool is complete without one.
Penina continues her documentation.
Apparently Penina and I did nothing but stand around and take pictures.
We made it with no other folly to speak of, and boy were we ready to be out of the car and snuggle up with a good pillow.
JP's fiance Jaci made Simple Routines pillows for JP to sell. They were cuddly. Just ask Penina.
Setting up. Friday.
I was grateful that our table was next to Alec Longstreth and Clutch McBastard, two of the nicest guys at SPX. Click on their names to find out who they are if you don't know.
The bearded man in the foreground on the left is Stephen Floyd, the other half of One Percent Press. He and JP started it up a few years ago and have been putting out mini-comics, zines, and albums of the highest quality. I recently (and gratefully, and enthusiastically) joined forces with One Percent and sold from their table (below).
My mini is the light brown one below JP's elbow. I was lucky to have it between JP's newest minis and Stephen's books of his writings. Alexis (to JP's side) has recently won a Xeric Grant and used it to publish La Primavera
Greg and I are Camera Brothers.
Such poise, such elegance. And of course I'm talkinb about both the Canon, and Greg.
CCS setting up
This year CCS's table was jam packed with mini's and prints by the finest of the fine. I think eighty percent of this years' students provided the table with comics and almost all of them actually came to Bethesda on their own dime. Thanks go to the school for paying for our tickets to the show though.
And here we have Drew Weing and Eleanor Davis (here's a link to their joint website ) visiting our table. I was a little bit thrown to have met these two under such relaxed conditions. Both are cartoonists I've admired. Specifically: Eleanor's comic The Mistake challenged the way I thought about inking, and Drew changed the way I looked at coloring in Photoshop after I read an interview he did in the Comics Journal.
Those *ahem* girlie magazines next to our table belonged to our table neighbors. They were...classy?
JP's first pillow sale of the day!
And what a happy customer.
My first customer!
I don't remember her name, but she was very nice.
Wait! Now which one is Jeff and which is the cupcake?
I don't know which table had those, but I wanted one.
The table across the aisle from us was very bubbly. They threw foam noses at the crown and had five minutes of "Red Nose Time."
This made JP sad?
Eskimo-kisses all around.
Wait, Stephen, did we forget something?
I guess JP is taking care of it. Here we have him cutting up some last minute minis on the floor behind our table.
CCS Table all set up.
Even though the CCS table was located unfortunately next to a closed exit I though I saw it having steady traffic, especially Saturday. Here we have Alexis, and Chuck, and I think David's back?
More Pillow Customers!
One Percent Press is all about perpetuating cuddles and snuggles.
I noticed you were asking yourself about those foam red noses...
My lips look like a pencil thin mustache that goes around my whole mouth. Other than that I think these are perfect likenesses of our shinning mugs.
Greg doesn't trust those two guys across the way looking greedily at his pillow...
I'm sorry for these terrible pictures but that is, indeed, Robyn Chapman up there presenting the first Ignatz Award of the night. You did great Robyn. I understood every word you said, even if I couldn't see your face at all.
And the Ignatz Award Winner for Outstanding Minicomic is...
Gabby 'Ken Dahl' Schultz!
The award is an actual brick.
In the elevator Tony Millionaire gave Penina and her friend free drink tickets.
Here they are enjoying those tickets.
For me SPX was full of anxiety and joy, and fatty foods. It filled my heart with delight to be surrounded by the energy and encouragement, community and competition. I can't wait for next year.
Thanks to JP, Stephen, Greg, Alec, Kaz, David, Joey, my lovely CCSers, and my car companions Alexis and Penina. And everyone else who was nice to me, which was a lot of people.
And thanks to Becca for being there when I got home.